Kerry Hopkins, 21, a linguistics student at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, was given the task of raising the aspirations of four pupils at a comprehensive in Jarrow, South Shields. She is one of more than 1,000 students employed by the National Mentoring Project, initiated in 1999 by the DFES.
The mentors are full-time university students who are trained and paid to give help and encouragement to pupils in 78 schools across 22 education action zones.
Ms Hopkins said: "When I signed up to the scheme, I did not quite appreciate the effect such a seemingly simple concept can have. My focus for the year was to provide my 'mentees' with continuity and routine. I am so proud to have had such a positive effect on their social and academic aspirations."